Traveling to El Salvador? This mini travel guide to El Salvador will help you get the most out of your travels! This is one of many Mini Travel Guides in which locals and expats share their favorite eats/activities/secrets with us.
Hello! I’m Rebeca. I left the blog-writing world a while ago but I’m a fan of Yes and Yes. I’m a born and raised Salvadoran, currently working on getting into grad school.
Must go in El Salvador
El Tunco Beach
All about amazing surf, friendly people, cheap hotels, great food, and fun in the sun. The name comes from the huge rock in the middle of the beach that looks somewhat like a boar.
Ruta de las Flores
Take time to get to know El Salvador’s colonial roots. Ruta de las Flores is composed of three little villages: food festivals every weekend on Juayua, awesome artisan-made souvenirs and candy in Apaneca, and walking the plaza in Ataco, if you choose you can stay the night and have fun in the local bars, there’s usually live music.
It’s the biggest park in El Salvador with beautiful nature trails and camping, you might even get lucky and spot a jaguar or a deer.
The center of the capital (San Salvador) is home to the Cathedral, the National Theater, Gerardo Barrios Town Square and the Cemetery of the Illustrious. All these places carry the city’s rich history along with breathtaking architecture.
Must do in El Salvador
Take surf lessons
Salvadoran surfers have made a name for themselves in the last couple of years; you can go the beach and spot a number of places that offer lessons.
Martyrs of UCA Museum
The University of Central America is a great place to learn about the Salvadoran civil war because it played an important role during those troubling times. This tiny museum lets you in on the history of the University’s Jesuit priests that where killed by the death squads and on the social ups and downs of the war.
Bar-hop at Paseo del Carmen
Located in Santa Tecla, about 10 minutes away from San Salvador, this small street is filled with all kinds of restaurants where you can find anything from Brazilian cuisine to Sushi and Pupusas. There’s also a great selection of bars and pubs, you choose how much you want to spend, since the prices also vary a lot from place to place. There’s usually some live music on site, weekends are the best time to go.
Turtles are protected on the beaches of El Salvador, some people have the terrible habit of hunting for their eggs and selling them because they are considered a traditional meal. The ecology and tourism ministry has gone through great pains to avoid this and one way of promoting their turtle-saving campaign is through turtle releasing. Who doesn’t want to hold a tiny turtle?
Must eat in El Salvador
THE ultimate Salvadoran dish. Pupusas are basically a corn or rice tortilla filled with cheese, beans and/or pork (you can even go try the gourmet variations I’m talking carrot, spinach and even shrimp). They are served with tomato sauce and pickled cabbage (curtido). You can find them just about anywhere and you can have them at any time of day. Also, have this with some hot chocolate or with a “Tropical” soda.
There’s a variety of ceviches you can have, most include a combination of fish, shrimp and oysters (some people even add octopus and calamari) along chopped tomatoes, onions and cilantro.
Either fried or steamed yucca is served with tomato sauce, curtido and pork. Have it for dinner or as a snack.
Cultural tips for Traveling in El Salvador
Salvadoran people are a little nosy, but overall friendly. Use public transportation with caution, it’s a really cheap way to move around, and you can go just about anywhere with it, but bus drivers aren’t known for their driving skills, don’t bring valuables with you when getting on a bus, if you prefer to have piece of mind splurge on cabs or rent a car.
El Salvador is known for one thing: violence. But we are a lot more than that, we have a rich culture so take the time to better understand our history. And use common sense, don’t go down roads you don’t know or walk the streets alone at night, ask the people at your hotel for references on where you are going and keep the police’s number on hand.
Travel on the cheap in El Salvador
The Ministry of Tourism and El Salvador Turismo, offer a huge variety of cheap one-day tours on the weekends, you can look them up on Facebook. If you’re going to local businesses like souvenir shops or small clothing stores you can usually bargain for a better price. Most tourist attractions aren’t that expensive, and you can find a wide range of decent hotels, you don’t have to pay for a big name hotel.
Thanks so much for sharing, Rebeca! Do you guys have any El Salvador travel tips to share?